WASHINGTON – After a timeout midway through the first quarter, No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) came out firing and scored four goals in about two minutes to break a tie game.
The Ascenders never looked back after taking that 6-2 advantage.
IMG (12-1) defeated Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 26-9 on a rainy Sunday afternoon to advance to the semifinals of the GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals at Catholic University. The Ascenders face Georgetown Prep (Md.) at 7 p.m. ET on Monday.
“(I said), ‘Just settle down, just play our game,’ ” IMG coach Jason Basso said. “I think we came out a little bit too amped. It’s a prestigious event, we’re very excited about it.”
IMG, the No. 1 seed in the event, has now won 12 consecutive games since losing the season opener to Hill Academy (Ontario), a possible opponent in Tuesday’s championship game. Hill is the No. 2 seed and ranked No. 3 in the Super 25.
The Ascenders were able to grab 49 ground balls, more than double the total amassed by Christ School (16-5).
“Tremendous team effort. That’s what we’re looking to do,” Basso said. “We want to push tempo as much as we can.”
Christ School coach Jeff Miles noted how physical and aggressive the Greenies’ opponents were.
IMG led 12-5 and halftime and quickly expanded its cushion with four goals in the first couple of minutes. The Ascenders scored seven goals in the quarter while Christ School only mustered two.
Attacker Tehoka Nanticoke dominated the game, running the IMG offense from the start with a hat trick in the first quarter. Nanticoke would finish with a game-high eight goals and one assist.
“Probably need a freight train to stop him,” Christ School defenseman Jonah Roberts said. “He’s massive.”
Roberts’ teammate, attacker Joey Cinque, said Nanticoke was probably one of the best players he’s ever faced.
Attacker George Prince helped set up Nanticoke and his other teammates with eight assists.
Before Sunday, Christ School’s season high for goals allowed was 16. For IMG, it was its highest-scoring game of the season.
Christ School battled hard in the beginning against the favored Ascenders. After scoring on the opening possession, the Greenies stayed even with IMG up to a 2-2 deadlock.
Hunter Vines was the catalyst for the Greenies’ offense with four goals and an assist.
But for the Greenies, not even their pinpoint shots to the corner of the goal could help them keep pace with the Ascender’s relentless offense. IMG goalkeeper Tyler Armstrong made 10 saves before he was replaced by Drew McGill in the third quarter.
Despite not playing since April 22, the Ascenders got back into their groove. Now, only two wins stand between IMG and a tournament title.
“Hopefully catch some of these other games on TV,” Basso said. “We’re looking forward to tomorrow. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”